27 January 2008

Jeudi le 24: I love Brits

I was about to type something interesting when I noticed that I have dog hair all over me. Funny how that gets in the way of your thought process. Kaylan, I have a dog named Baloo who reminds me of Porscha. Not even joking. Ok, anyway. Thursday. Thursday actually wasn't that long ago, I'm pretty proud of myself, I feel like I'm finally catching up! Yay!

Breakfast on Thursday was super early. Early meaning that we had to be sitting on the bus at 8h47, which for me felt pretty early. I don't know about everyone else. So once again I packed up everything in my suitcases, made sure I had all of my shampoo and underwear, and hauled my two suitcases down the stairs. That was fun. I felt so incredibly buff after that experience, I almost did it again. Haha... just kidding. It was pulling them up the stairs on Monday that had been oh-so-incredibly fun. Oi. What I did love was that the nice bus driver man took my bags and put them in the belly of the bus for me while I went up and found a seat. I was one of the last ones on (comes from being the last one to take a shower). I sat next to Mark and we bantered in French for the two hour drive to Chartres.

Can I just say how glad I am that I can still be sarcastic in French? Ok, so you may not believe me, but I was seriously concerned about not being able to be sarcastic or to be able to communicate a dry sense of humor while I was here. But then I met Sophia and Mark and Sarah and Jess and I hate them and they hate me and we love it all. Of course all we can really say is Tu m'enerve (you annoy me) and Je vais te tuer quand tu dors (I'm going to kill you in your sleep). But it's still sarcasm, and therefore a shining star in my midnight sky.

After driving two hours, we stopped at the Chartres Cathedrale. Beautiful. The only awkward part was that when we got there a funeral was taking place. There were beggars outside, and when one found out we were American, he started singing "American" songs to us. I don't even remember which ones they were, Mark and Prateik and I fled pretty quickly to walk around the building. The view was phenomenal. Chartres is cool, I'd say.

Our guide was a famous English dude who, for my UNC peeps, was pretty much John Bromley with a Brit manner of speaking. No joke. I fell in love with him and would have married him on the spot had he not been A. Sixty years older than me B. Kinda short and C. In the middle of a really interesting tour.

"You see that ghastly statue over there? Yes, yes, the ghastly one. I hate it. Detestable, really. Why they have it there I have no idea. Doesn't go at all with the rest of the decor. No, it doesn't." How can you not love parole like that? He was brilliant. Kept on telling us big things, then moving to smaller things, and stopping himself because he didn't have time to talk about it all. The stained glass windows are breathtaking, especially once you hear that they're all four feet square, whereas they only look to be maybe one foot. Amazing. This guy has given lectures all over the world; he has degrees from who knows where, and has been guiding at the cathedrale for fifty years. Even then, he told us that he still knows only a tiny fraction of what there is to know about the building.

We had lunch, ratatouille (yum :D), at a restaurant. I hit my leg on the table sliding in to the bench. Something funny about France is how vegetarianism is totally bizarre to them. There are about four veggies in our entire group, and Staci would tell the restos beforehand that there were people who didn't eat meat in the group ("My Big Fat Greek Wedding," anybody?) but they still wouldn't get it. One of the waiters actually walked away from our table mumbling to one of his fellow waiters "There are no more normal ones at that table." We got a kick out of that. Vegetarians are gaining numbers in France, but it's still pretty slow. Apparently if you cook beef all the way through it's not considered to be a red meat. Hm.... ok. Whatevs. I mean, I just eat the stuff. And then when people ask why I say, "Well, once you've eaten dog you can eat anything." And then I walk away. It's fun.

After the resto we got back on the bus and Staci started walking down the aisle, giving people slips of paper with their Rennes addresses on them. It took her a while to actually get down to me and Mark. It was like watching someone walk up to you with a monster bowl of chocolate pudding. You have no idea if what's going to happen next is going to be one of the best moments of your life, or something to bemoan to your therapist in the following years. Staci got to our seats and handed me my 7x3 card. It was fancy paper, kinda stiffish, with the logo of CIEE (my program) in the corner. My host family's address was in the middle. M. et Mme. MASSON, it said. I held in my fingertips and I think it was one of the weirdest feelings. Staci told me just the tiniest bit of who they were. They lived in an apartment just outside of Rennes, in Saint Gregoire. She hadn't been there but she had been to the house they had owned just before and it had been beautiful. They didn't have any kids in the house.

I waited quietly while Staci told Mark about his family, and then the two of us just sat there, staring at our lives in our hands. One and a half hours before we met these people and started to live with them. The only way I can communicate how weird and creepy it was to know this is to keep repeating it. So weird. I hadn't been nervous before, but with the card in my hands, I started to ask myself what in the world I was doing. Don't worry, I remembered again. But there's always that moment where you go "Holy crapoli what am I doing?" At least, I do. I think I might actually be the only person in the world who says "holy crapoli" though. I dunno. :D

The last half hour of the ride was wonderful. We had no idea how close we were to the commence of our lives. It was when I saw a sign for RENNES 2 that I nudged Mark's arm and we kinda started freaking out. The bus somehow managed to pull into the parking lot without crushing any of the mini cars there, and we piled out, pulling together our bags. Actually, I can remember as I got out of the bus and clipped my suitcases together: "Halelujah I finally get to unpack." Then I did the "holy crapoli" thing again. We all followed Andrew and Staci inside.

Then we ALL went to the restroom. Mackenzie, thank you for telling me to bring toilet paper. Enough said there, I think. I just think it's hilarious that we were all so nervous that suddenly all we wanted to do was hide in the bathroom stalls. One of the girls standing next to me down on the floor laughed and whispered that it was like a middle school dance. All the parents were on one side, and all the kids were on the other side, looking at the floor, the French students we already knew, eachother, anyone but our future parents. Then Staci introduced another CIEE important person, Madeleine, and started reading off the list of names, matching people up. When I realized that she was reading in order of the French family's last names, I kinda freaked. When she said "Monsieur et Madame Loubard? Oui, vous avez Anna..." I grabbed Mark's elbow and he glared at me. Then she called my name and I bised my mere and met my pere (French mum and dad, from here on out) and it was so weird.

I think one of the first things I said was "Je suis desolee mais je suis un peu fatiguee et tout ca est tres bizarre." (I'm sorry but I'm a little tired and all this is really bizarre) And that's how I met Elisabeth and Michel Masson. They are fantastic. They have three grown up sons, Philippe, Francois, and Pierre. Philippe and Francois live in the Alps and San Fransisco (respectively) with their wives, and Pierre lives more near-by. They used to have a house, but they're building a house near Lorient, on the coast of Bretagne, so they bought an appartement in the meantime. They have a yellow lab named Baloo who doesn't steal food from the table, which is amazing because the table we eat on is right on his nose level.

All of the things in my room are a la Ikea. This makes me uber happy. The one problem I've had, and the same with everyone else, is that there's this mandate that the houses here can't be warmer than 19*C. That's pretty cold. It's to save energy or something like that, and if you fail, you get fined. Woot. So I sleep with a lot of pajamaness on.

That first night we ate very French food. Spaghetti and bread and wine. Hm... no, but it was really good. I met my Mamie, Michel's mom who lives in Lorient. She's adorable and really cute and invited me to stay at her house one weekend. I really want to. Mes parents also keep telling me to tell them about places I want to go over the vacation, because if the group isn't going and if I'm not going with my friends, they want to take me. Cool, oui?

And that was Thursday. What a Thursday. Weird.

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